According to Mediate
, Psy's first anti-American outburst occurred in 2002, when he performed at a concert protesting the presence of 37,000 US troops stationed in South Korea.
Those troops provide a measure of deterrence against any potential North Korean aggression, but they also often commit crimes, including rapes and murders
, against Koreans that incense locals.
In 2002, a US tank ran over two 14-year-old Korean schoolgirls, Shin Hyo-sun and Shim Mi-seon, killing both. The American soldiers involved were tried by a military court and found not guilty
of negligent homicide, further infuriating many Koreans.
It was against this backdrop that Psy performed, smashing a miniature US tank to pieces as the audience howled its approval.
In 2004, South Korean translator and Christian missionary Kim Sun-il
was kidnapped by Islamic resistance fighters in Iraq. Kim's captors demanded that South Korea cancel plans to send 3,000 troops to participate in the US-led occupation of Iraq, an endeavor which claimed the lives of more than 100,000 Iraqis and bred widespread hostility toward the invaders. When Seoul refused to bow to the kidnappers' demands, Kim was beheaded.
Psy once again took to the stage to vent his anger at the United States. He, along with several other prominent Korean musicians, performed a song called "Dear America." When his turn on the mic came, Psy rapped:
"Kill those fucking Yankees who have been torturing Iraqi captives.
Kill those fucking Yankees who ordered them to torture.
Kill their daughters, mothers, daughter-in-laws and fathers.
Kill them all slowly and painfully."
Psy was referring to the horrific torture
of Iraqi detainees, most of them innocent
, at US-run prisons in Iraq such as Abu Ghraib. The torture of detainees was ordered from the highest levels
of the Bush administration.
While Psy's violent lyrics against Americans are shocking, so are the US crimes he railed against. And when taken in context of the hyper-violent hip-hop culture, his vitriolic language does not seem so out of the ordinary. As Mediate points out, former gangsta rapper Ice-T, who experienced first-hand the realities of police brutality and discrimination in South Central Los Angeles, once rapped about killing cops
. But Ice-T is now one of rap's elder statesmen and even plays a cop
on NBC's "Law and Order: SVU."
Time will tell whether Psy's anti-American past will dent his popularity in the United States. "Gangnam Style"
reached #2 on the US pop charts and although the artist's staying power is questionable, he currently counts millions of adoring American fans. Will they care that he once took principled-- yet highly abrasive-- "anti-American style" stands against US crimes of empire?